JP Rangaswami, CIO at BT Global Services and Confused in Calcutta blogger, responded to my post "The True Nature of Open Source," where I said the economics don't favor pure open source as a business model. First, JP makes five points, and believes that economics can favor open source, although he also recognizes that hybrids, mixing open source and proprietary code are inevitable. Point 1:
Economics can favour opensource. Commodity economics, based on scarcity, does not. But gift economics, based on abundance, can and does favour opensource. There’s a lot we have to learn about the economics of abundance. It is at the heart of Doc Searls’ Because Effect; it connects Stallman and Raymond and Torvalds to Brand and even Garcia.
JP follows up that post with musings about the inevitability of hybrids:
We’re all part of this ecosystem. It is said that each plant has its own specific parasite and its own specific pest, that famines were caused by people who carried plants to far-off lands without the apposite pest-parasite pairing. It’s not always clear what our roles are, who the pest is, who the parasite is. Maybe some of us who blog are pests. Maybe the media that feeds on our doings are parasites. Whatever it is, the outcome can and should be a healthy plant.
Hybrids represent transition. And some process of natural selection, as different hybrid strains battle it out for top slot; some atrophy and die, some adapt and survive.
So we have hybrids.
As part of that transition, JP said, "As we move from proprietary to open worlds, we are seeing another transition. The customer is becoming the partner. And not a day too soon."
Figuring out how to please the customer and become more transparent and open, without relying some proprietary bits, is not for the faint-hearted, but creating a culture around that concept can have a more long lasting and profitable impact.